I am pretty pleased with the way my drawered tool cabinet is coming out. But… I think I’ll be using this build in the garage, and start over building something a little different for my office workshop.
So here’s what happened in the past 2 weeks.
I looked at my Gladiator workbench, and it once again annoyed me that there’s a lot of wasted space under the worktop. I have a ~27″wide by ~18″ deep tool cabinet within a 25″ deep space, and misc. stuff on the other side.
The total space between the workbench legs is 56″.
Someone put it in my head to give Ikea Sektion cabinets and drawers another try, so that’s what I did. I went and picked up everything needed for a 30″ cabinet and 6 drawers, and a 24 cabinet with 6 drawers, both 24″ deep.
I sized the cabinets to fill 55.5″ of it, including cover pieces. It seemed like it would be a great editorial opportunity. How well did kitchen cabinets suit workshop use? How would they compare to my super heavy duty bolt-together solution?
I went back to Ikea a few days later and also picked up wall rails and 4x 30″ wide wall cabinet with the vertical hinges I really liked.
Today or tomorrow I’m heading back to return everything.
With the Ikea Sektion system, the money goes towards the hardware and visible face components – the drawer fronts and cover pieces.
The drawers are created using Blum or Blum-like components – steel sides and back plus a melamine chipboard bottom.
You lose space at the sides, because the drawer components slope inwards.
A few days ago I decided that I would wall-mount the cabinets, rather than to try to find a way to convert them into a free-standing system.
I tried to better plan everything over the weekend. Where would the Ikea kitchen cabinets go? Where would my 80/20 cabinets go? Should I raise the Ikea cabinets an extra few inches to match the final ~39″ height of my 80/20 cabinet?
Would I still build maybe an 80/20 corner setup so that I didn’t lose a lot of corner space?
And then I slowly gravitated to the idea that I should build a custom space-fulling L-arrangement.
I like how I built the 80/20 cabinet so far, but I would have to come up with a different arrangement for the L frame.
When trying to think of a raising platform for the Ikea cabinets, I came up with a horizontal rectangle with small repositionable feet. The feet would be 3″ or 4″ sections of feet with pricey but useful mounting feet bases, and threaded leveling feet – perhaps just under 3″ so they didn’t stick out much.
So when drawing up initial designs for the L configuration, I decided to go with a rectangle for the base, with horizontal spans being single lengths of 80/20. The depth spans would go completely between, and can be connected via anchors, angle brackets, or joining plates.
For this build, I think I’ll order cut and counterbored pieces from 80/20, unless I can get my machining tools finally unpacked and ready. The counterbores are a challenge without a real mill.
The vertical spans will also have end anchors or brackets. The front sections will be fixed to the front horizontal rail, the rear sections will be fixed to depth rails. This would allow for mounting of Blum drawer slide hardware without needing to come up with a complex or space-wasting way to mount them.
It would also allow for wall-mounting, if desired. But I think the L-shaped design should provide enough anti-slip protection. Maybe wall-mounting will help further vibration-proof everything.
One wall has 84″ of available space, the other 87″.
That 84″ is right near my huge L-shaped corner desk, which I’ll be redesigning soon too I think. Right now, too much stuff gets lost on the 31″ deep and 63″ wide desk that has a 48″ x 24″ corner side.
So I figure a 12″ shelf section would be good, putting the first bank of drawers where my Beta tool cabinet currently resides.
Then, there will be 26″ bank of drawers. A vertical support, then 20.5″ or 22.5″ bank of drawers. The slides will be 21″ long, and the framing 22″ deep. Looking at a 21″ slide in my kitchen, the rear vertical support will work well to directly support the back of the slides, if on the depth rail and nudged forward a hair.
The right side, where there’s overlap with the other L section, will be kept closed. Corner cabinets are very space efficient, so I have something else in mind. Maybe a hinged worktop, so I can store some long bulky stuff in the corner area.
The other side of the L will be 16″ or 19″ deep. I’m leaning towards 19″ deep, which will work better for the 24″ and 2x 15″ wide drawer sections I’m thinking of.
2 25″ deep workbenches in the room was too much, and I had moved one of the benches out. But I think that a 22″ section and 19″ section will work better. With some overhang, that will be 23″ on one end, and 20″ on the other. With a sort of built-in look, maybe the space will work.
The alternative is 23″ to 25″ on one side, and 16-17″ on the other. But 17-18″ with 1″ or 2″ of overhand won’t be much shallower than 19-20″.
My first drawer was prototyped for a 18″ wide x 15″ deep cabinet, and it was too small.
The current design calls for 2x 15″ drawers, which I think will work a lot better with 18″ slides than 15″.
Or I guess I could go with a 30″ drawer, but I think I would benefit more from more compartments.
Or maybe I can use this space for Sortimo T-Boxx storage and a small open shelving stack.
I’ll have a few drawers with 24″+ inner width, and there’s also a shallow but wide 4-drawer office cabinet available for super-wide stuff. And don’t forget about that secret trap door-accessible corner cubby I’m planning on.
For the cabinet I already built, I’ll cut the depth rails down to size and will wall-mount the rear, making a sturdy shallow depth cabinet for the garage. Or… the other side of the room, by a doorway. Or maybe it’ll be a part of my eventually to-be-shrunken corner desk.
The height is expected to be: 4.5″ feet + 1.5″ lower rail + 30″ vertical supports + 1.5″ top rail = 37.5″.
A 1.5″ worktop puts the height at 39″. I have 1-1/8″ butcher block tops from Ikea, which would put the height near 38.6′. The leveling can be extended to get a little more height if needed.
I plan on using this space for precision work. When I considered getting Sortimo WorkMo units for the drawers or T-Boxx, I read that 750mm is a good height for heavy work, 1000mm for precision work. It’s all about elbow position.
750mm is around 30″, too low and unnecessary. 1000mm is about 39.37″. 36″ is typical kitchen countertop height. I’m happy around 38″, but a small bump up is good.
With my current cabinet design, I can’t really change the height. With the new design, I can swap in taller feet if needed. Or shorter. In theory, with 30″ vertical supports and 1.5″ top and bottom rails, I can get a height of 36″ pretty easily. Feet support with fully inserted feet would be another 1.5″ So that would be 34.5″.
Raising the worktop height to 38″ to 39″ still gives me a comfortable elbow angle. Some commercial workbenches bring the worktop height to around 38″.
One thing I’m not set on is whether or not I’ll be taking the casters off my Beta tool cabinet for attachment within the 18″ to 19″ depth section. It’s a great tool cabinet, but might look out of place when all is said and done.
This is why I try to think ahead, otherwise I end up with a car full of Ikea furniture I need to return to the store, or a bucket of spare parts.
The good thing about 80/20 is that everything from the original cabinet build is reusable. It’s still a hell of a sturdy workbench that I might modify to be shallower – to better fit the already-build drawers – or I might keep it as-is.
There are a few questions I’ll think over, but I’ll likely measure once more and then order the framing components I’ll need to get everything going.
Once the skeleton is in place I can better think about how wide to make all of the drawer sections. Maybe I’ll make shelves first, giving me the opportunity to see what will go where and how it’ll look.
Questions to think about:
Black or silver anodization? I’m thinking black! Black looks better, but shows dings and scrapes more too. Silver with smooth sides is 53 cents an inch, black with smooth sides is 61 cents an inch. To save money I could just go with black anodized for the showable surfaces, which will also be mostly hidden by drawer fronts.
1-1/8″ butcher block top, or source some thicker stuff? If I don’t use the two 72″ x 25″ countertops for this project, I’ll use them for something else. I will likely need to buy another top anyways. Or, if the corner area is hinged to make a secret cubby, I can just make that section.
What to do about the corner? Giving access would take away from drawer widths – a LOT, too. A removable or hinged worktop section would help, but knowing me I’ll have that area cluttered up in no time. Maybe I could create a liftable area, where a square of worktop is elevated whenever I need to access something below?
Ooh – that seems like a neat side project!
Or I can leave the corner open for bulky stuff, say a vertical material organizer? Maybe with a pipe coming straight up with storage trays situated around it?
How to use that corner?!
I know it’s hard to talk about project planning like this without visuals, but I’m still working on them. Right now all I have are some sketches in a notebook.
Oh, and drawer depth is looking to be 2.75″ with 3/8″ spacing, 4″ with 3/8″ spacing. and 6.5″ with 3/8″ spacing.
I might think this out a little more. Maybe it’ll be better to go with 2-tier deeper drawers.
I can fit 8x 2.75″ drawers in a 30″ span, or 6x 4″ drawers, or 4x 6.5″ drawers. 1x 6.5″ drawer can sub in for 2x 2.75″ drawers, or 3x 4″ drawers can sub in for 4x 2.75″ drawers or 2x 6.5″ drawers.
A 3/8″ spacing between drawers is a little wasteful, but gives more space for overflow. On the current cabinet, 1/8″ is a bit cramped. I’ll probably have to cut one of the deeper drawers to create a little more space. Otherwise it’s going to requite a whole lot of work to create and perfectly space drawer fronts.
There’s a lot of thinking aloud and indecision here. I tend to be more visual when planning out workspaces, which is why I’m so keen on getting the skeleton up before finalizing the sizing and placement of everything.
It was only once I started blocking things out with cardboard boxes that I realized the upper cabinets I ordered wouldn’t work well here. They’re also really deep – 15″. Maybe I’ll keep them, but as of now I think that 10-12″ shelving will work a lot better than 15″ deep wall cabinets. Maybe I’ll be up to 2 return trips this week – one to return all the bottom stuff, and upon thinking about it more, one for the tops.
That was a whole thought process in itself – if I install those 30″ wide x 15″ tall x 15″ deep cabinets, how much of a space would I want between the top of the worktop? The standard kitchen spacing of 18″ is too small. 20″? 21″?
Those Blum-made vertical hinges are awesome, and could be used for DIY wall cabinets just the same. They’re super pricey, though, at $50 per pair. The cabinet is dirt-cheap, the front is pricey, and the hinges are priciest. I’ll return them, get the L-shaped workbench built and then equipped with drawers, and then turn my attention back to over-workbench space.
Hmm, I’ll probably want to move the electrical outlets from their near-floor placement, to above-worktop placement. I’ll have to check to see whether the circuit is 15A or 20A. That circuit feeds outlets and lights at random other parts of the house.
If it’s a 20A circuit, it needs 12 gauge wire, But if it’s a 15A circuit, can 12 gauge wire be used all the same? I figure that the outlet can be moved, but maybe it would be better to remove the lower outlet, leave the wiring intact, and then just add in 12 gauge wire going to a new outlet placement above the worktop. Agh- too many things to think about!
Sorry for the sidetrack! (But not really.)
How did everything spiral out of control? Here was the thought process:
- Storage space under workbench is under utilized
- Ikea cabinets to go between workbench legs
- Ikea cabinets to be wall mounted
- How to transition between 24″ cabinet and 18″ DIY cabinet?
- How to build the corner piece?
- How to build a platform for the Ikea cabinets to be raised to the DIY cabinet height?
- If I’m building a platform to raise the Ikea cabinets, I might as well build a platform to wrap the corner
- Ikea drawers to be used in the new cabinet (Ikea Sektion Maximera are said to be built by Blum)
- Blum Tandembox drawers?
- Blum Tandem with Blumotion slides (used in the cabinet build) are more flexible and have higher weight capacity
- Let’s build a new L-shaped tool drawer workbench, expanding the platform idea into a somewhat monolithic almost built-in frame!
- Spends some time with pen and paper to see how it could work
- Let’s post about it!